Trender Research™

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Trender Research is pleased to announce the winners of our first annual Trender Awards. At final count, almost 100 tech products and services were submitted for consideration by Trenders or the vendors themselves. From these candidates, we compiled a short-list of finalists that were announced last week.

The Trender Awards were created to honor gadgets and services that are not only novel and technologically advanced, but also improve people's lives in some way and have appeal to everyday folks. It is our view that these products have a good chance of becoming mainstream, have already been embraced by everyday consumers, or have what it takes to be adopted by customers in their intended target markets.

Below are the winners of the Trender Awards. We have a couple of ties, and in other cases the voting was so close or Trender feedback after the finalists were announced was so strong, that we felt compelled to give “honorable mention” status to a few finalists.

Our process and selection methodology were described last week, but as a reminder we tried to look beyond products and services that would only appeal to tech-savvy consumers and early-adopters.

A press release will go out the beginning of next week announcing the good news. Please contact me if you would like to use the Trender Awards “Finalist” or “Winner” logos in your marketing materials and I will send you the appropriate files.

Mega Trender Award: “Best Overall New Product/Service for Everyday Folks”
• Winner: Apple “iPhone”
Apple’s iPhone wins our top award as the first real smart-phone to be widely adopted beyond the business professional market. This user-friendly device appeals to many demographics and is spawning a whole new mobile applications market.

Trender Award: “Best Video Product”
Co-Winners:
Allio “Lite HDTV/PC”
ZeeVee “ZvBox 100”
Votes were spread across the different Internet TV technologies presented by the finalists, but it is interesting to note that the two true “everything your PC and HDTV can do” approaches won out. Allio’s all-in-one device has appeal for its simplicity, but leaves a wiring challenge for consumers. ZvBox solves the wiring problem by using the home’s existing coaxial cable, but adds some level of set-up and usage complexity.

Trender Award: “Best Video Service or Portal”
• Winner: ABC.com
• Honorable mention: Hulu.com
I was really surprised that Hulu did not win this category. Feedback from the Trenders is that they most liked the interface and the HD content on ABC.com, and if I were to do a follow-up poll, I bet we would find many of their favorite shows can be found there.

Trender Award: “Best HDTV Brand”
• Winner: Vizio
Vizio wins as the HDTV brand perceived to have the right combination of great product and good value.

Trender Award: “Best Communications Product/Service”
• Winner: VidTel
• Honorable mention: Skype
While some were horrified at the potential of getting caught in their pajamas, most Trenders agreed with me that it is about time the video phone revolution finally comes to the mass market.

Trender Award: “Best Mobile Product/Service”
• Winner: Apple “iPhone”
No surprises here as my one lonely vote for RIM’s BlackBerry Storm was unanimously overruled by the rest of the voting Trenders.

Trender Award: “Best GPS/Navigation Product/Service”
Co-Winners:
Garmin “nuvi 200 series”
Networks in Motion “AAA Mobile”
We had another tie in this category. The Garmin nuvi 200 family of products was seen as the best and most affordable of the GPS products, but an equal number of Trenders are intrigued by the idea of baking this capability into their cell phones via Networks in Motion’s navigation service (which powers Verizon’s VZ Navigator among others).

Trender Award: “Best Photo Product/Service”
• Winner: GigaTribe
• Honorable mention: Picasa
Taking lots of digital photos is no problem for people, but sharing large folders of photos/videos with friends and family with little effort was a bit tricky, until now. GigaTribe has some user-interface quirks to work out, but it’s the best option if you want to set up a highly secure network to safely share large files directly from your hard drive without size limitations.

Trender Award: “Best Audio Product/Service”
• Winner: Sonos "Multi-Room Music System"
Honorable mention: Apple “iTunes”
In close voting, Apple almost had a sweep of the categories where it was considered. The promise of Sonos’ high-end, whole-house atmospheric sound overwhelmed Sony’s less expensive kitchen audio device. Conclusion, “mainstream” does not always mean cheap.

Trender Award: “Best Accessory/Peripheral Product”
• Winner: iGo “iGo Everywhere Wall and Auto Charger”
• Honorable mention: Nextar “Solar Bluetooth Car Kit”
iGo’s universal charger is just too darned practical to not win this category that had over a dozen products in consideration. The green appeal of Nextar’s device fits into a larger trend.

Trender Award: “Best Security Product/Service”
• Winner: Swann “DIY Doorbell Video Intercom”
Not everyone wants or is willing to pay for a sophisticated home security system, but most Trenders understood the value of a front-door, do-it-yourself video intercom.

Trender Award: “Best Robotics Product”
• Winner: WowWee “Rovio”
• Honorable mention: iRobot “Roomba”
iRoomba, arguably the first mass-market robotics device and one that several Trenders own, takes a back seat to Rovio’s “remote presence” robot.

Trender-Blender Award: “Best Convergence Product/Service”
• Winner: VidTel
VidTel wins the battle of the convergence products.

Trender-Render Award: “Best User Interface for Any Product/Service”
• Winner: Apple “iPhone”
No contest here for the iPhone. Apple proves again its prowess at building a device people actually like to interact with.

Trender-Sender Award: “Send It! Best Hoped-For Upcoming Product/Service”
• Winner: VidTel
Except for those who lounge around in their pajamas, our Trenders expect great things from VidTel. Now don’t let us down.

Trender-Mender Award: “Most Improved Product Line”
• Winner: Sling Media “SlingCatcher”
Sling Media really completes its product line with a device that not only sends content from another SlingBox to your TV, but also scrapes together a PC/Internet TV story.

Trender-Gender Award for Men: “Best Product/Service for Men”
• Winner: Sling Media “SlingBox”
Another win for Sling Media is propelled by Trenders who want to watch their favorite sports team while on the road.

Trender-Gender Award for Women: “Best Product/Service for Women”
• Winner: Lok8u “Nu.M8”
The voting in this category was across the board, but the Moms won out with a way to keep track of the kids. I mean REALLY keep track of them.

Tender-Trender Award: “Best Product for Kids”
• Winner: Nintendo “Wii”
If they are going to play video games anyway, you might as well give them a work-out.

Trender Award: “Best Embedded/Enabling Technology”
• Winner: MoCA
In a category that was confusing for everyday Trenders, the idea of using the coaxial cable in their homes for multi-media distribution was the most appealing.

Trender-Pretender Award: “Most Overrated Product/Service”
• Winner: Microsoft “Windows Vista”
We could have put any number of maligned products in this category, and Vista would still have won this dubious award. Why is it that we spend so much money on powerful computers, and we still end up with an experience that is slow and buggy?

Trender-Ender Award: “Death of a Product/Service Category”
• Winner: Dedicated Fax Machines
Our Trenders see no need any more to buy a dedicated fax machine with the all-in-one printers now available.

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